The Ghanaian market continues to offer many opportunities for exporters of consumer-ready food products and remains a key access point for entry into the West Africa Region market. The agricultural sector is largely subsistence based composed of 80 percent crop production, 10 percent livestock, poultry and fishery production, and 10 percent forestry. The sector employs over 60 percent of the population and contributes about 37 percent of GDP. Ghana operates a relatively free market, having relatively low tariffs on imported products. Major agricultural food products imported into the country include bulk commodities (rice and wheat) and consumer ready food products such as poultry. There is a high demand for imported food products, especially consumer ready products, due to limited selection of products provided by the underdeveloped domestic agricultural and food processing sector in Ghana. The top three agricultural products being imported include:
- Rice is cultivated in all the agricultural regions of Ghana. It is grown mainly in the valley bottoms, employing traditional farming practices. Modern scientific methods of rice cultivation through mechanization and irrigation are gradually increasing, particularly in the northern savannah zone and the Accra Plains of the Greater Accra region. Nevertheless, local rice cultivation does not meet local demand. Ghana has a total of 125,000 hectares of land under rice cultivation. Rice is imported to augment local production (of milled rice) from Pakistan, Korea, India, Thailand, Japan, China, Vietnam and the United States.
- Wheat consumption has been stable for several years due to the high cost of hard wheat, which is the preference of the Ghanaian consumer. There is no cultivation of wheat in Ghana. All the wheat consumed in Ghana is imported, with about 40 percent of the imports coming from the United States and the rest from Canada and the European Union. Bread has become one of Ghana’s staple foods, with most Ghanaians having some form of wheat in their daily diet. There is an increasing demand for wheat bran for livestock and poultry, and it is expected that the demand for the importation of wheat will be sustained. Total wheat milling capacity in Ghana is about 400,000 metric tons.
- Poultry production in about 65 percent of the market is mainly ‘free range’ or ‘backyard’ – with a high chick mortality rate. Large quantities of poultry parts are imported into Ghana to satisfy local consumption. Much of the poultry sector operations are based on hen table egg production. Ghana imports large quantities of day-old chicks and hatching eggs from the European Union, USA and Brazil. Local broiler meat production is in direct competition with imports of chicken, turkey and duck meat. Local broiler meat cannot compete with imports of frozen chicken meat due to the fact that the frozen meat is often sold cut and butchered which is more affordable and convenient to the final consumer. Meat importers play a major role in the wholesale of poultry meat products. They usually operate cold storage capacities of 1 000-2 000 tons and sell products to retailers in cartons and in bulk.
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